Arcadian: Monsters? Check, The Post Apocalypse? Check, Nicholas Cage? CHECK!!!

17th Dallas International Film Festival

By Ben Bright

Salutations from SXSW!

So here I am down in Austin, TX for my first ever trip to SXSW. It’s a little warmer in Texas than usual this year but it’s still quite sunny and pleasant. And so far, it has been a great time. I have already seen a few cool movies including the world premiere of the new Shudder original set-in a near post apocalypse starring NICHOLAS CAGE!!!!

Unfortunately, I was not able to get an express pass to see the movie and so I had to wait in line to see the movie but since it was an afternoon showing at 3:00 PM, the line wasn’t too bad (only roughly an hour and a half). Luckily, I like to be prepared for situations like this and had my bag with me with my two 1-liter water bottles, Liquid IV packets to stay hydrated (come on Liquid IV, show Reelnewz some sponsorship love), Clif Bars (come on

Clif, why don’t you throw us some money too), and portable phone charger. And fortunately, the line is right next to my hotel so if I need to refill my water bottles or use the bathroom, I can always have someone hold my spot for me while I go back to my room and back. I was sooooooo prepared that a gentleman commented on how prepared I was.

Waiting in line is not as bad as it seems, it’s almost a bit of a linear tailgate party. We’re all a bunch of likeminded individuals waiting to go to the same showing so it a bit of a social event.

So, I am a member of that weird unofficial Nicholas Cage cult. Seen most of movies, read his biography, Age of Cage (great read, if you haven’t check it out), I just think he’s great so when I saw this on the calendar before I came down here, I immediately made a point to make it priority.

Arcadian opens with Paul (Nicholas Cage, I’m not going to list any of his credits because if you aren’t aware of his brilliance then you don’t deserve to be) escaping an urban combat zone with bombs, machine guns, explosions, etc. It’s a full battle going on.

Fifteen year later, Paul is living in the countryside with his fraternal twin sons, Joseph portrayed by Jaden Martell (It, Knives Out) who is highly intelligent and driven by his brain and Thomas brought to screen by Maxwell Jenkins (Joe Bell, Netflix’s Lost in Space) who is more ruled by his emotions, who are often getting into altercations (I have a brother, brothers fight), and a family dog.

Every day when the sun sets, they have to fortify the house and make sure the lights are dimmed due to the nocturnal creatures that have populated our planet (more on the creatures later). It is also implied that due to how the earth has been polluted that the pollution itself is what drew to an alien invasion.

One evening, Thomas is running late and barely makes it to help at sunset and almost had to be locked out and fend for himself. He explains to his father that he was helping at the farm of a man named Mr. Rose performed by Joe Dixon (The Cold Light of Day, The Mummy Returns), where he also has a flirtatious friendship with the farmer’s daughter, Charlotte portrayed by Sadie Soverall (Saltburn, Little Bone Lodge). Joe proceeds to admonish him about how he can’t miss the daily dusk lock down of the house.

That night at dinner the boys have a verbal dispute at the table and Paul talks them down and gives him his beliefs about where the creatures came from and how he believes that the world is healing itself and things are getting better where the boys, having grown up only the post-apocalyptic landscape, do not share his hope and optimism. Shortly afterwards, a creature attacks the door and Joseph thinks he detects a pattern to the bangs on the door after they stop and believes that he might be able to begin to understand their methods.

Later in the film, after one of his visits to the Rose farm, Thomas is on his way home to make it before where he falls and injures himself, Paul begins to worry and has Joseph lock up behind him while he goes to look for Thomas and things do not go well.

What happens in the third act is a true test of the bonds of family and friendship and who you can and cannot trust in a world where resources and allies are limited leading to a wild climax with the characters believing that there must be another way to survive in the post apocalypse. It is a bittersweet ending leaving the future uncertain.

Mild spoiler though. I just want to assure readers that nothing bad happens to the dog.

I loved the film and will make a point when it comes out in theatres. And that’s not just because Nicholas Cage is in it. The film shows the value of family sticking together in bleak times to prop each other up and in turn make each other stronger because of it. It’s also interesting to seeing what coming of age is like after the world has ended. Things that we take for granted like growing up learning to read and learn social development are not directly addressed but it makes you think about what it must have had been for Paul to not just be a single parent(we never know what happened to the mother) but a single parent in the post apocalypse where there really is no schools and barely any social interaction. The boys and Charlotte must rely on the little amount they know having been born when the world is starting from scratch in the current state from their parents, making it work well as a family drama in its own way.

I also loved the creature design and effects. That was one big stand out to me and in my opinion, probably the best since 2006’s Pan’s Labyrinth.
My only real complaint is sometimes the film scenes grow a little too dim, lighting-wise, but I believe that that is by design by the filmmakers. So if that is their vision and what I got was a great movie, I will let it slide and not overthink it.

This was probably my fave film that I saw at SXSW, and I do believe that if this is the genre type that you enjoy, I give it a strong recommend and encourage you to watch it when it comes out on April 12th.

Well, that’s all my time because I have about six more days down here in Austin see films, attend panels, watch bands, and graze on BBQ. Peace out!

15th Dallas International Film Festival